Ford names ex-GM exec Butler to lead global connected vehicle unit

Butler's resume includes a stint as managing director of GM Egypt and head of business development for GM's OnStar telematics unit.
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DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. has hired Don Butler, a longtime General Motors executive who resigned from the company in August, to lead its new global vehicle connectivity department.

Ford said today it named Butler, 50, executive director of connected vehicles and services, effective immediately.

“Not only does Don understand the connected car landscape, but probably just as important, he understands customer expectations,” said Raj Nair, Ford’s global product development chief, in a statement. “Having a leader with technology experience both inside and outside the industry is a rare combination -- we’re excited to have Don join our team.”

Ford said it will expand its Sync AppLink, which was launched in 2010 and enables users to control smartphone apps using voice commands, to an additional 3.4 million vehicles this year.

Butler’s departure from GM after 25 years in marketing and product planning roles came as a surprise to GM executives. He was Cadillac’s top marketing executive from March 2010 to April, when he was promoted to a global business development post, charged with leading the brand’s growth overseas.

Butler also held marketing positions at Pontiac, Chevrolet and OnStar, and he ran GM Egypt from 2005 to 2007.

In 2009, Butler left GM for a telematics startup in Seattle before returning to GM as Cadillac’s marketing chief.

Mike Colias contributed to this report.

You can reach Sean Gagnier at sgagnier@crain.com.


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